Happy Thoughts on a -12 Degree Night

ETA: Last night when I titled this it was -12F.  It's 0F tonight when I posted it.  Progress!

Anyone else read this Mugwump Chronicles post and immediately start thinking?  Warning: much theoretical thinking out loud below.  Relevant excerpt from the post:

"***Spoiler alert***What I'm about to write is VERY POLITICALLY INCORRECT. Please remember, I'm relaying a private conversation, a moment in time, a description that fit the situation, that does not represent my actual opinion about, well, anything, except that moment.
"When I'm riding a horse, trained by a client, who was taught to train that horse, by me..." I said.
"Yes?" K asked.
"It feels like I'm riding one of my horses..."
"Yes?"
"if it was my horse's 'special ed' little brother or sister."
"Snort." K shook his head and studied his saddle horn.
"You, know, everything is there, but slower, duller, not quite right."
K looked at me, with his I-can't-believe-what-rattles-around-in-your-brain look.
"So, it got me thinking," I said.
"Yes?"
"Do you feel the same way when you ride mine?"
"Well, not quite."
"Oh. Good."
"They might have been held back a grade or two."
"Oh."
June 2012...
Connor's getting to be in a really good place, after two years of being ridden only by me and once every 3-6 months by my trainer.  I'm so happy with the way he feels every time I get on his back.  He's now the most educated horse I've ever ridden (Wow, yeah.), which is an impediment to faster progress since I don't really know what I'm doing.  My trainer could "make" him way faster than I could, but I'm interested in the process and learning myself as well as teaching him, so here we are.


October 2012...


With every new thing we do, step one is me learning how to feel what's going on, step two is me learning how to feel what's going on and then react appropriately, and step three is me learning how to feel what's going on and react appropriately and quickly.  When my trainer rides him, there isn't that step of active thinking between feel and react, but with me, there is.  I'm sure she'd describe him just like Janet did above: she knows him as if she trained him, but he isn't as finely-tuned as she would have him.

My trainer can get on and ride him really well because she taught me how to teach him.  You can tell by her involuntary reactions on the ground that when she teaches me that she's feeling him by watching, and telling me to react in the way she would be if she were the one riding. When she does have to get on him, it's usually because something's going on that she can't mentally feel, and she needs to figure it out physically herself before she can teach me how to fix it.

Now...sort of.  This is the second to last riding photo I have of the two of us, and it's a screenshot from a video, and it's from five months ago!  I need some barn friends!

I don't really know where I was going with that wandering thought.  I'm so happy with where we are, with where we're headed and with how quickly or slowly we're getting there.  We're in uncharted territory for both of us, I have learned so much, I still have so much to learn, I need my trainer more than ever, the training process is slow because I have to learn to teach him and then teach him, (but it's also incredibly rewarding and I wouldn't do it any other way), and in summary, Cardi did his first Grand Prix at the age of 13 and Connor's not even eight.  The sky's the limit, and slow and steady really does win the race! :-)

24 comments:

  1. I think it's the greatest compliment when someone gets onto a horse I have "trained" and genuinely likes the way they go :)

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    1. I have never had the chance to try that out, but I can see it feeling really good! It makes me even more excited/nervous about the horse swap in team practice.

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  2. It sounds like both you and Connor are well on your way to something great! Teaching the human is usually harder and more time-consuming than teaching the horse!

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    1. Oh, you are so right. It's my riding that's been the impediment so far - my shoulders and my swinging lower leg, primarily. I wonder sometimes how much faster we'd go now if I knew in the beginning what I know now. Yours was another blog I thought I had added to Feedly but didn't. Added now!

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  3. You do need a barn friend! Move to Oregon and I'd LOVE to take photos for you. :)

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    1. I almost did! My husband had a phone interview with a company in Gresham last month. They ultimately didn't want to take it any farther, but when he asked me if that was an approved moving location I was like "Yes!! I have built-in horse friends!" It would have been awesome to be that close to you and Tarra!

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  4. I really like the quote/ conversation you shared :)
    You guys are awesome. I totally want some kind of small horse in the future! Not sure I want a cob but a small warmblood cross? Possibly!

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    1. Thanks! I know Mugs became a divisive character after the Fugly Horse of the Day thing, but she's still one of my favorite bloggers. Well since your horse's breeder and my horse's breeder are good friends, and my horse's breeder breeds Cob Warmblood crosses, I think we can make that happen someday. :)

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  5. I know what you mean about feeling like you're holding your horse back. I feel it every time I ride Paddy, because I'm just not fast enough or consistent enough to be there for him when he needs me... yet. I'm lucky though, because I was able to learn a lot of things on Cash, since he was the first real "trained" horse I ever rode. Our progress was super slow, because I trained him myself, with the help of hundreds of hours of lessons over more than a decade. So now I get to benefit from the feel and timing I learned from riding Cash, and I can apply all that to Paddy.

    One thing that helped me tremendously was taking some lessons on a schoolmaster. If you can learn what "right" feels like from a horse that can give you "right", you can work on another horse to get the same feeling. But if you and the horse are learning "right" together, it can take much longer. Of course, finding a schoolmaster to ride can be pretty challenging... they seem to be few and far between!

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    1. I think Connor is my Cash. Many decades from now when Connor is a pasture pet (!) and I have another Cob, I'll be interested to see how the training process goes the second time around. You are so right on the schoolmasters, unfortunately there are not very many of them!

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  6. Im so there with you as far as the uncharted territory for both of us! On one side it is so fun to learn with them and figure it out together but on the other side it would be nice for me to have an idea of how to teach him first! It definitely comes slower than if we had weekly lessons or trainer rides but it feels good when your trainer says you are doing a great job :)

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    1. I think I've told you before how impressed I am with your progress on just two lessons a month! You have done so well with him and are my inspiration!

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  7. I love that... learning to feel, learning to feel and then react and then learning to feel and react quickly. That is the absolute truth and I'm right there with you. The process can be exhilarating and exhausting but in the end, hopefully, satisfying.

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    1. Yes, all of the above. I love almost every second of it - the six months where we couldn't turn left because I rode so one-sidedly sort of sucked and wouldn't have happened with a pro. But we're past that now!

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  8. I've always felt that you don't *really* know something until you can teach it to someone else (in this case I'm referring to your horse). You are going to be such an accomplished and proud horse mom when you can look back at how far you two have come and know that it was all due to your hard work. =-)

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    1. I have heard that before and really think it's true. I'm the queen of skimming an article and thinking I remember what it said, and then I think "Could I teach that to someone?" and I can't. Thanks. :-) It really is rewarding!

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  9. Great post! I feel like if I had a horse, I would teach him (and teach myself) exactly the same way :)

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    1. Thanks! There are faster ways, but I'm not sure they're more fun or rewarding! :)

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  10. Just wait until you try those other horses. You are going to appreciate Connor even more. The imperfections of other horses stand out to me when I ride a different horse. Not that Harley is perfect, but they always seem dull and crooked compared to him.

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    1. You are probably right, and I shouldn't have to wait too much longer to find that out. Straightness is so hard to get and so complex to figure out, I can imagine a lot of horses feeling that way. It will be really interesting, that's for sure.

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  11. That's when you're really glad you have a good trainer--I'm pretty happy getting a horse up to training/first-ish level dressage, but I've really never gotten to ride beyond that other than one lesson on a school master. To keep progressing, I need consistent eyes on the ground.

    That said, C-rage is nowhere near that level, so lots of work for us this year.

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    1. Agreed, none of this ever would have happened without my trainer. And I don't know if you were reading back then, but when I was considering taking him, I had to choose between a $190/mo backyard facility 10 minutes from home, or my lesson barn 45 minutes from home. So glad I made the right choice there.

      You're right, you're doing really well with him on your own. Everyone gets to a point where they need someone, even the Olympians, it's just a different point for all of us. For me, with Connor, it was every step of the way. Maybe it won't be like that in the future.

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  12. I really liked that post too :) My trainer in Alberta probably felt like Mugs when riding Ginger, because Ginger is a big step up for me and I'm always that fraction too slow to react. We used to joke that we each knew when the other had ridden her. Meanwhile, with Lainey, it was the opposite, she had a more novice leaser for a while and I was wondering where the heavy, slow horse came from.

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  13. Such a great feeling having someone you trust in their training abilities...and that horse is responding well to what you have been working on!

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